Trying to combine healthy food and barbecue is difficult. By its very nature, barbecue is the sort of thing that most health nuts frown upon, and there are dozens of articles on the topic. Most of the articles, however, basically suggest the dieter fill up before they go, which is not only rude, but just a tragedy to miss out on all that delicious grilled flavor!
So, I’d like to argue that you actually can make some healthy barbecue choices that will work for everyone. Grilling, in fact, is by its very nature more healthy than frying or other methods of cooking. So, the next time you’re faced with the problem of having to make something healthy that doesn’t sacrifice all that is good in barbecue, remember these tips:
1. Bring on the veggies
There are plenty of vegetables that you can throw on the grill which taste pretty damn delicious. Try using skewers and alternating meat with the veggies, or simply offering a foil steamed vegetable mix to go along with your meat. Here is a guide for grilling veggies to get you started.
2. Go light on the sauce
Let’s face it: barbecue sauce is simply not healthy, and that’s okay by most people. However, if you’re trying to be conscientious about someone who is on a diet, put the sauce on the side and let them decide how much barbecue they want (if any). Alternatively, if you make your barbecue sauce at home you may already be making a more healthy version of the store brands, so check to see what’s allowed for the ‘healthy’ qualification. You may be surprised!
3. Embrace other flavors
If you simply must forego barbecue sauce entirely (sob!) then instead you’ll hvae to find other ways to flavor your meat. Smoking is a good choice, as is marinade or a good rub. All three are generally going to be a little healthier than barbecue sauce, taste almost as good, and please everyone. Here is a guide to help out, and some beginner smoking mistakes to avoid if you’re new to the game.
4. Opt for chicken or seafood
When most people start worrying about their health, red meat is one of the things that tends to go. So, try focusing your meal around white meats instead. Chicken and fish, especially, are both popular with the health-conscious and great on the grill.
5. Offer healthy side dishes
If you just really don’t want to compromise on your best barbecue recipe (and who can blame you?) then make sure that you at least provide some healthy side dishes. Fresh or grilled veggies are a good option, as is cole slaw, fruit salad, and even whole grain biscuits or crackers.
6. Check restrictions ahead of time
If you’re cooking for someone with specific healthy dietary needs, make sure that you check with them before making any changes. You might be surprised to find that barbecue is actually much healthier than people think. For example, if you’re simply trying to reduce salt, then making a homemade barbecue sauce without salt will solve the issue.
Do you have any specific healthy barbecue options that your family and friends love? Share below in the comments!